As fall as apples and pumpkins and acorn squash and . . . watermelon?
Huge, juicy, ripe watermelons hardly seem as though they are similies for autumn. Who ever saw a watermelon used in a Thanksgiving cornucopia?
Yet that's exactly what our fall garden is producing right now. About a month ago Hubby examined some vines twining around the spent tomato bushes he was about to hack out to make room for his fall plantings. Hiding underneath the curls and twists were some baby watermelons--possibly 10 or 11 of them. At this late date? We'd never grown watermelons before. Planted them, sure, but to no avail.
Hubby remarked that if these happened to produce, which he doubted would happen, this would represent the first time since his childhood that he'd been able to grow watermelons.
Then when the melons did begin to burgeon, more skepticism reigned. Would they actually ever ripen? Would they rot out first? Tenderly, under each of the promising ones, he installed some pieces of wood to keep the moisture away. Even during our recent monsoons the melons held. At least four of them approached the picking stage. But would they be any good? Hubby wondered as the moment of truth arrived.
Cameras flashed at the proud instant in which he actually toted his (well, his and God's) handiwork, a sizable, green-striped melon, into the kitchen and plunked the knife down into it to split it apart. Still doubtful it would taste worth anything, Hubby took the first exploratory bite. A smile of pride slowly crept over every molecule in his face.
"It is good," he pronounced with wonder in his voice. He then kept sampling and sampling.
For this magic moment I had saved just the perfect recipe. The August 2010 issue of Prevention magazine featured Tomato Watermelon Salad. This "Odd Couple" pairing--tomatoes and watermelon, along with fresh mint and pistachios--held a huge fascination for me since I first read it. Tomatoes and watermelon? Oh, well, we're always being reminded that the tomato indeed is a fruit. Truthfully, once this salad was prepared and tossed, one hardly could tell one red bite from another.
"I've said it before, but I mean it this time," Hubby pontificated as he savored. "This is absolutely the best salad I've ever tasted." (I think its containing his home-grown watermelon had something to do with his effusiveness.)
Still about five promising melons remain in the garden. At this rate we'll still be dining on them as we sing "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town."
Tomato Watermelon Salad
4 cups coarsely chopped tomatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 cups coarsely chopped seedless watermelon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon alt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup chopped pistachios
1 avocado, peeled, halved, seed removed, and sliced into 1/2-inch chunks (optional)
In a serving bowl combine chopped tomatoes and chopped watermelon. Toss with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and mint. Stir in avocado, if desired. Top with pistachios. Serves 4.